These easy pond maintenance tips for beginners will keep your pond clear and beautiful with less work! No chemicals are necessary!
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Reasons to Add a Small Pond to Your Yard
- Beauty. Ponds add an element of nature that is incredibly beautiful.
- Sound. The sound of tinkling water is so peaceful. It’s also good for disguising un-wanted noise.
- To add wildlife to your yard. A small pond provides water and homes for so many animals. I love watching birds and even chipmunks drink from our pond. It can attract bats that eat thousands of insects a night. Plus, it provides homes for frogs.
- Peaceful. It’s so peaceful to listen to and look at our pond. Instant tranquility.
- Low maintenance. Once it’s set up, it’s fairly low maintenance. We spend time cleaning it out in the spring and fall, but that’s it.
About Our Pond
Our pond was one of the first things we noticed and loved about our house when we looked at it. I’m a sucker for a water feature.
It’s made of 2 small preformed pond liners. It has a 300 GPH filter connected to a fountain in the concrete frog.
We put pebbles around the pond to avoid having to mow around it (and get grass in the pond). The pebbles look great and are easy to maintain.
If weeds grow in the pebbles, they’re easy to pull out because they have shallow roots, which really needs to be done soon…
Things to Consider for Your Pond
We started with 4 inexpensive “feeder” fish from the pet store. Our goal was to see if we could keep them alive. We also wanted to see if predators would eat them (we live in the woods.)
Goldfish are pretty hardy and can survive the water freezing.
The fish are pretty easy to take care of, but 2 have disappeared, probably due to predators.
Fish are good because they eat mosquito larvae, which is always a problem when you have standing water. (You can also buy Mosquito Dunks to kill mosquito larvae, which are not harmful to other wildlife.)
Although fish are beautiful, I’m not sure we would choose them again for a few reasons.
Update: our fish and frogs were eaten by a heron. RIP.
Fish Eat Frog Eggs
When we first moved here, there were frogs everywhere. They’re adorable. But guess who likes to eat frog eggs? Fish. We went from having 10 frogs in our pond to 0.
I miss our frogs. They move away when the environment isn’t quite right for them.
Fish Poop Leads to Algae
You wouldn’t think so, but fish are messy. They poop and it has to go somewhere. All that fish poop leads to high levels of nitrogen, which leads to algae.
Luckily, there are ways to keep a pond algae-free. See the pond maintenance section below.
Location of Pond
A pond in a sunny location is much easier to maintain than a pond surrounded by trees. Full sun also allows you to buy beautiful lilies and other sun-loving plants.
We have had a pond surrounded by trees before and it was hard to keep fish alive.
Pond Maintenance for Beginners
In addition to cleaning the pond, the filter also adds oxygen to a pond. This keeps the water from being stagnant and keeps animals alive.
Buy the best you can for the size of pond you have.
Cleaning the Filter
We clean our filter sponge and pad in the spring and fall. Do not clean the biological filter part (the black balls in the bottom). They provide beneficial bacteria that helps keep the pond clean.
Removing that bacteria will result in a cloudy, green pond. Ask me how I know this….
We buy water hyacinths every year for our pond to help with filtration. Plants do a great job of filtering water and helping to remove the nitrogen from fish poop.
Water lettuce is great for shady location.
We buy ours from a local pond store, but I’ve also seen it at some plant nurseries.
Although the other water plants survive our winters, the water hyacinths do not, so we re-buy them once a year.
Snails are nature’s Roomba. We bought 4 snails when we started and now there are hundreds of them in the pond. They roam around and clean up the edges of the pond, eating algae.
If you know that your pond is prone to algae, buy a bundle of barley straw and place it in the pond in the spring. As the straw decomposes, it breaks down the algae.
This is a long process, so don’t think of it as a quick fix.
Note: if you’re cleaning out the pond in the early spring and you find what looks like a dead frog, it’s not actually dead. Frogs hibernate in cold temperatures, slowing down their heart rates to survive. Just leave them alone and they will thaw out when they need to.
We’ve “rescued” a few only to have them get killed by an unexpected frost.
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